Additional "Young Moms" Articles


Training Them Up in the Way They Should “Go!”
Published: 10/5/2010 2:18:54 PM


Anna is now three and a half. She is not potty trained. Despite many noble – yet not overbearing – efforts by my husband and me, she simply does not want to pitch the pullup diapers – at least not yet. Our pediatricians in both cities we’ve lived in recently, suggest that this is due to all of the transitions; first adding a sibling then moving. I worry, however, that I’m either going about this all wrong or, worse, my daughter is as stubborn her mother!

At first, potty training was a novelty – for both of us. She wanted to sit on the potty all the time. She enjoyed going through the motions of disrobing, sitting, using toilet paper, etc. She was so proud when we sang her praises (literally) after each successful attempt. But, the novelty wore off. Going potty stopped being the end goal. She stopped pottying for pottying’s sake.

The potty became an inconvenience, something she had to do to get back to her busy schedule of playing dress up, cooking in the pretend kitchen and – admittedly/unfortunately – watching tv.

From time to time, she’s made valiant efforts to go to the potty when she’s realized the need was presenting itself. She’s even attempted to wear underwear but just ended up making a mess of things.

Our new pediatrician recommends the method that has proven tried and true for oh so many disciplines… bribery. That’s right! She suggested mini M&Ms – one for trying, three if she goes. Like most suggestions, we took it and made it way more complicated. To begin, I couldn’t find mini M&Ms so we’re doing mini marshmallows. And we’ve modified the reward scale to fit our particular issues. We do one marshmallow for trying, two if you go but have a wet pull up, three if you go and have a dry pull up, and four (which has never yet been attained) if you go poo-poo on the big girl potty! So far, we’ve had a lot of trying and some successes. I can only hope that we are on the brink of going every time and not just for M&Ms.

Anna’s potty training (or lack thereof) actually isn’t so surprising. Think about it! How often do we see the same trends in our own lives?

  1. A new challenge presents itself

  2. This new thing is exciting at first and you really get into it

  3. Novelty wears off

  4. The new thing becomes an inconvenience, taking you away from other important things

  5. Valiant recommitting moments resurface from time to time

  6. You make a mess of things

  7. Bribery comes into play

  8. Lord willing, one day it sticks.

Take church attendance, for example:

  1. A friend takes you to church and something grabs you (the Holy Spirit, maybe)

  2. It is exciting and you help out with Vacation Bible School and go on a mission trip

  3. But the novelty starts to wear off

  4. You realize that if you just skip church you can catch up at work, or get the laundry done and you just sort of fade out a bit

  5. Every now and then you recommit, "This year I’m going to church every Sunday, or at least 3 weeks a month!”

  6. Then you make a mess of things, maybe offending someone or dropping the ball on something, and you fade into the back ground again.

  7. Maybe friends bribe you, "Let me take you out to coffee, then we can go to church together.” (Make it a grande, skinny vanilla latte and that’s my kind of friend!)

  8. Maybe one day you realize just how much you need to be fed with God’s Word and in communion with His people. Maybe you come to realize how God has been seeing you through life, even when you haven’t seen Him. Lord willing, one day it sticks.

See, stubborn three year olds are not that far off from stubborn thirty-ahem year olds. Maybe it isn’t stubbornness. Maybe life’s transitions make things difficult for people of any age. Regardless of the cause, God’s hand is on our lives. As redeemed children of God in Christ, we are confident that He will see us through all of life’s stages.

Have any ideas for potty training? For that matter, have any ideas for attending church? The next article will spell out what it’s like to be a mom in church! Comment on the blog!

By Faith Spelbring

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